January 17, vs San Diego (18-19): L 115-131
Despite a game-high 31 from Andrews, and a +4 turnover margin, we fall by a big margin. It was the rebounds that did us in. We had only 29 on the night, yielding 40. We also didn’t adequately defend shots, allowing the Riders to shoot 60% from the field, and behind the arc, converting 12 of 19 threes. Bishop Popp was tops for San Diego, with 28 and 8 boards.
January 19, @ Brooklyn (26-12): L 103-121
Ivan Salinas had 27 for the Hoops, with 4 steals. Every single one of their starters was flirting with having 20 points on the night (and only one was beneath it, with 19). We turned the ball over 24 times (-9), and it was all due to their 18 steals (+9). Neither team shot particularly well, but they had ten more field goal attempts. Cherny had a team-high 20. (And Casper and Kaempfer started).
January 20, @ Milwaukee (19-21): L 89-110
Jason Ray had a career-high 17 rebounds for the Moose, whose lead was as big as 24. We get outrebounded by 10, and allow 14 turnovers to their 9. Additionally, we shot 29% to their 50%. All-in-all, they dominated us inside, with 56 points in the paint to our 24. Andrews had 18, and Casper had 21 with 7 assists, and 7 rebounds.
January 22, @ Charlotte (11-29): L 120-123
In this close game, it came down to the fact that we allowed 11 threes, while only making 8 of our own. Of course, allowing 19 free throws, while going 12-18 from the charity stripe doesn’t help either. After ceding a 14 point lead midway through the second quarter, we started really playing much more physical. We narrowed the lead to 7 by halftime, and slowly started whitling away. At the end of the third, we had finally narrowed the gap to five, after getting as close as 1 point behind. We spent most of the fourth within 2 points, either ahead, or behind, until we were tied with 36 to play. Both coaches had used their last timeouts somewhat earlier.
We brought it up the floor, and quickly set up into a pick-and roll, which opened Andrews up for a three. He passed the shot up, when a defender came running at him, stepping in and instead calmly nailing a long 2 (He was 10 of 14—3 of 4 from deep—and scored 26 points). 22.2 on the clock. From there, Nikica Tepavac pushed the ball up quickly, and passed to J.B. Linderman, whose dunk was foiled by none other than Andrews. However, the ref blew his whistle, and Andrews’ great defensive play became one that would cost us the game. Linderman nailed both free throws, and Andrews’ sixth foul sent him to the bench for the last 14.8 seconds.
Now, here is where it gets hairy. Coach thinks we can win in OT, so he tells everyone to waste time. We take all eight seconds to bring the ball to half-court, but with 3 seconds left, Kaempfer commits an illegal screen, trying to get Rahim open for a shot. Turnover. Romain Clark takes the inbound pass. After receiving the ball from the ref he fires it off, all of the way down and across court, to Nikica Tepavac, who had make 6 of 13 threes on the night to this point. He squares up, takes the pass, and lets fly. Game over.
January 23, vs Indiana (7-34): L 92-113
Chad Williams gets 19 and 10 rebounds to send us home with our 8th loss in a row. We gave up 11 more shots (for 12 more makes), which is basically all that anyone needs to know. Again we were devastatingly outmatched in the paint, allowing 56 inside, while only providing 28. Andrews and Cherny had 15 apiece, and Casper had 12, with 7 boards and 5 dimes.
January 26, vs Philadelphia (35-7):
I left the Philadelphia team in good hands. Of course, it would be pretty hard to actively screw the team up. They are currently in sole possession of the league’s best record, on pace to come close to the record for the most wins in a single season. Coming off of a tough loss on the road against Dallas, they will be looking hard to turn things around. Harrington is averaging 19.6 points and 10.1 assists per game, and his defense has taken another stride. He now has 3 career triple doubles, and is well on the way for another All-Star selection. Evans has moved up the ladder to a strong #2 option, also averaging in excess of 19 points per game, with an unreal shooting percentage. He is converting better than 60% of his shots, and 47% of his threes.
So, there was quite a bit of hype about these two teams meeting. Of course, it shouldn’t be a competitive match, with the best team in the league facing off against a scrappy, but young and untalented expansion squad. Certain pundits suggested that the match could be closer than most people realized, but no one would bet against the Freedom (Even I wouldn’t). We all knew it was going to be a fun game to watch when Jefferson Andrews took his first shot from about 30 feet. He had tripped while receiving a pass, and launched the shot to avoid travelling. It didn’t touch the rim, or really anything else, as it flew through the cylinder.
The first quarter wasn’t a particularly good one for us. Philly was showing its talent. Harrington threw the rock around like it was magnetically attracted to open teammates, and everyone was draining their shots. We made some of our baskets and were playing solid basketball, but, there wasn’t really a way that we could keep up. Harrington had 10 dimes before sitting down with 3 minutes left in the quarter. Philadelphia comes out of the first with a 6 point lead. We had shaved a few points off after they subbed in their bench for the last couple minutes.
Andrews was a little quiet in the first. He had 8 points on 3 for 4 shooting, preferring to let others take the fun in the period. But when the second quarter started, he came out with a bang. On the first possession, he jumped into the passing lane, grabbed the ball, and flew to the other end of the court, where he converted a powerful tomahawk jam. This opened up the way for him in the period. He scored 18 in the second quarter all on layups and dunks (he was 9 of 11), crushing the Philadelphia lead and tying the game up at 57.
Baykurt had been rolling all game, but in the third quarter, Cherny really used his long reach to keep any passes from getting inside. Our +2 turnover margin quickly became +8. At that point the lead was getting insurmountable. Andrews and Kaempfer were relegated to the pine before the end of the third, and the other starters were soon to follow. Rahim Harper stomped around a bit in the fourth, racking up points in garbage minutes, and our 15 point lead dwindled to 11.
Interesting stats: Jefferson Andrews had 36 points. Griff Harrington was flirting with his 4th triple double. He had 15 points, 21 assists, and 7 rebounds. He did, however, have 8 turnovers. Rowan Evans had 27, with at least two in every statistical category.
Game Over. Good guys WIN: 117-106
January 28, @ San Diego (22-20): L 102-117
That last game was some storybook stuff, and everyone knew it. We came out a little sluggish, allowing 65 in the first half, and our rally, which began midway through the third quarter, ended up being too little, too late. We shot 6% worse than the Riders, whose David Burke is still injured, and also had negative margins in most other statistical categories. Our lead rookies both had more than 20; Andrews had 25 points on 9-17 shooting, and Chernyaev made 9 of 15 for 20 points and 9 boards. Casper had a 12 point, 12 dime, double-double and led the team with 3 steals.
January 30, @ Portland (26-19): L 76-112
We couldn’t buy a bucket all night, going 35% from the floor (2 of 13 from deep). On the other end, we couldn’t stay in front of our opponents and, as expected, lost big. Larry Hayes had 20 and 7 boards to lead Portland to yet another victory.
January Rookie of the Month: Jefferson Andrews, MXC
January Player of the Month: Shaun Horan, LAW
February 1, @ Sacramento (24-19): L 84-116
I will say this. It was a closer game. Rahim Harper had 25 for us, as what would be basically the only real bright spot. This time, however, we shot better, about 43%, and allowed less than 50% of opposing shots to go in, but the real difference make was based on fouls. We made only 7 free throws all game (of 17), while allowing Sacramento to make 29 of its 33. If that margin were closer, we would have only lost by about 10. John Moore was tops for Sac-town, with 36 points and 7 rebounds.
February 2, vs Dallas (27-15): W 125-121
This was an extremely tough set of games, and beside a Golden State match on the 5th, it doesn’t look to get much easier. I am, however, super stoked to get wins against both the reigning champions and the runners-up. In this game, 7 Vaqueros scored in double figures, including Rosales. Tim Dyer (who leads the team in rebounding off the bench) had a double-double with 13 and 10 boards; he also had 3 blocks). Casper had 20 points and 6 dimes. Andrews had 25 points and 4 dimes before fouling out; he also recorded a steal and two blocks to take home Player of the Game honors. We shot 57% from the field and converted 86 points in the painted area. George Brown had 23 points and 15 dimes for the Rangers, who just couldn’t complete the rally. We never trailed in the game, and led by as much as 15.
February 5, @ Golden State (9-39): L 118-138
Allowing a 61% conversion rate from the field isn’t going to win games. Stevie Perine had 33 and 10 rebounds for the Spartans, while Brandon Huss had 29 to go with 5 steals. On our side a near-perfect 30 points and 7 assists from Charlie Casper (8-11, 4-5 from three, 10 of ten from the charity stripe), along with his 4 steals, proved to not be enough. We fell behind to a 42 point 1st quarter, and despite a rally in the second, we weren’t able to even the game, and we couldn’t keep up with the scoring pace of the Spartans. They had an impressive 34 team assists, to our above average 26. Also, Andrews had 21 points, shooting 9 for 12.
February 6, @ Minnesota (29-18): L 97-120
We did managed to have every player score in the game, but only two players exceeded 10 points, Kaempfer had 10, and Kazlauskas (he hasn’t done big things all that lately) had 18. As a team only Olev and Dyer attempted more than ten field goals. We shot 40%, and allowed Minnesota to go wild in the paint. Carl Timon (SG) had 32 points, Jimmy Fishback ©, had 22 and nine rebounds, and Wolf Ludendorff (SF|C) had 29 and 8.
February 11, @ Boston (37-25): L 116-139
We allowed Barry Jones to score 52 on us. And what a 52 it was. He was 24-28 from the field, also gathering 9 rebounds. Brandon Hemsley had 21 assists to help him out, and the Irish shot 62% as a team. On our side, it took Andrews 33 shots to score 36 points, and Rahim Harper took over for Kazlauskas at the SG position. He had 17. We never held a lead in the game, it was just a dominating performance from Jones.
February 13, @ Philadelphia (40-12): L 114-133
Jefferson Andrews made 24 of 29 shots for a career-high 51 points. He became the youngest player (at 20 years old, to score at least 50 points in a game. With that line, he broke his own record for largest scoring output in our team’s young history. However, Griffin Harrington had 33, 19 assists and 7 rebounds. Both Baykurt and Evans had 25, and together, they created such a well-organized attack that we never held a single lead. Of course, we only had two players with double figure scoring.
February 15, @ Toronto (8-46): W 99-91
Andrews scored 18, but the real MVP was Rodriguez Rosales, who had 5 steals, and 9 rebounds, despite having only 4 points. Harper had 11 and 8 dimes. Tyler Meekins had 16, which was good, but my pick, one spot later still outperformed him. Cliff Dodson had 20 for the Dinos, but we won behind great defense, allowing only a 40% mark from the field.
All-Star Weekend 2014
3 Point Contest:
Field: Rowan Evans, PHI; Jim Austin, UTA; Alfons Korda, ORL; Romaine Rodenbach, D-League; Jack Andreson, SDR; Leroy Johnson, TOR; Kenny Besecker, DET.
Champion: Alfons Korda (1st round 23, Final: 21)
Lineup: Jody Jones, MIL; Alojzy Kapuscinski, DAL; Ronald Cameron, ATL; Carl Regis, PHI;
Champion: Carl Regis (61 first round, 67 final)
Rookie Sophomore Game:
I had 5 players in the game, Charlie Casper and Olev Kazlauskas for the sophomores, and All three of my first round draftee’s for the rookies.
As expected, it was a blowout win for the Sophomores as Riley Monroe scored 37, with 8 dimes, and 11 rebounds in a near triple-double. Casperhad a double double, with 10 points, 11 dimes, and 6 boards. Olev had 4 points in 9 minutes. But on the other side, while Kaempfer and Chernyaev didn’t have the best of games, Andrews scored 30, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks, showing out as the best rookie of the night.
All Star Game:
Expectedly, I didn’t get an All Star this year. Andrews hasn’t quite made the cut yet. The East won in a relatively close one: The West was ahead at the end of the third, but a 43 point quarter from the East, led by Barry Jones, who had 30 on the night, was a big difference maker. Griffin Harrington had 14 and 14 on the night, with 5 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. They won despite going 3 for 13 from behind the arc.
West: 143, East: 150